Mindfulness [Of] Buddha [Is The] Special Dharma Door
[The] Dharma doors relying [on] Self-power [for] liberation [from the cycle of] birth [and] death, although highly profound, subtle [and] wonderful, [if] desiring [to] rely [on] these [for] liberation [from the cycle of] birth [and] death, also not known [is that this] needs [the] passing [of] how many numerous kalpas.
With restriction [to the] Great Vehicle’s Complete Teachings discussing, [the] Five Grades’ positions [are] still yet [to be] able [to] sever [wrong] views [and] confusions.
[Note 1: The Great Vehicle’s Complete Teachings (大乘圆教) are for attainment of Buddhahood. The Five Grades (五品) are the (i) Grade Of Rejoice (随喜品), (ii) Grade Of Study And Recitation (读诵品), (iii) Grade Of Speaking The Dharma (说法品), (iv) Grade Of Simultaneous Practice Of Six Perfections (兼行六度品) and (v) Grade Of Main Practice Of Six Perfections (正行六度品), as taught in the (Wonderful) Dharma (Lotus) Flowers Sūtra’s《法华经》Chapter On Different Meritorious Virtues (分别功德品).]
[The] First Faith’s position then severs [wrong] views [and] confusions. Then can [there] forever [be] without worry of creating evil karmas [for] falling [into] evil paths. However, [there] must [be] gradual advancement. Already [having] realised [the] Seventh Faith, then liberating [from the cycle of] birth [and] death. [The] First Faith’s supernormal path’s power [are] already inconceivable, [yet] still needing [to] reach [the] Seventh Faith’s position, then liberating [from the cycle of] birth [and] death. [Of the] matter [of] liberation [from the cycle of] birth [and] death, how can it be [so] easily spoken [of]?
[Note 2: There are the 52 positions (五十二位) of Bodhisattvahood (菩萨果) that lead to Buddhahood (佛果) – (i) Ten Faiths (十信), (ii) Ten Abodes (十住), (iii) Ten Practices (十行), (iv) Ten Dedications (十回向), (v) Ten Grounds (十地), (vi) Equal Awakening (等觉) and (vii) Wonderful Awakening (妙觉), which is Buddhahood.]
Then restricting [to the] Small Vehicle’s Tripiṭaka Teachings discussing, severing [wrong] views [and] confusions, then realising [the] First Fruit, [with] natural accomplishment [of] not doing matters [that] violate [the] precepts. If not leaving [the] household [life, perhaps] also marrying [to have] wives, giving birth [to] children. If, because of [being] coerced, made [to] violate [with] sexual misconduct, rather giving up life, definitely not violating precepts.
[Note 3: The Small Vehicle’s Tripiṭaka Teachings (小乘藏教) are for attainment of Arhathood (阿罗汉果) (or self-liberation), which is the (iv) Fourth Fruit (四果), after the (i) First Fruit (初果), (ii) Second Fruit (二果) and (iii) Third Fruit (三果). Those of the First Fruit can also be laypeople, who observe the lay precepts strictly.]
[Those with the] First Fruit [will] have progress without retrogression, [while those] yet [to] realise [the] First Fruit [are] then not definite. [In] this life [with] practice extremely good, [in the] next life, [there] will [be] creating [of] great evil karmas. Also having those [with the] first half [of that] life good, [and the] latter half [of that] life then evil.
[Note 4: Those with the First Fruit will progress without retrogression to the Fourth Fruit, not necessarily continuing to Buddhahood. Those with very good practice in this life are likely to create very evil karmas in the next life due to having great complacency, from the ripening of good karmas from this life. The first half of that life is likely to be good due to continuation of this life’s habits, while the latter half goes astray due to distractions from the ripening of good karmas from this life. In the life after the next, there is then fall into evil paths due to exhaustion of good karmas and accumulation of evil karmas. This existential problem that arises and repeats every three lives from not reaching Pure Land (净土) is called Three Lifetimes’ Grievance (三世怨).]
[Those with the] First Fruit need seven lives [in the] heavens above, [or] seven returns [to the] human world, [to] then realise [the] Fourth Fruit. [However], heavenly lifespans [are] extremely long, [that] cannot with years [and] months discussed. This relies on Self-power, [to be] liberated [from] difficulties of [the cycle of] birth [and] death.
[The] Dharma Door [Of] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha, [is] thus that Special Dharma Door within [the] Buddha’s Dharma [teachings]. Relying [on the] Buddha’s loving-kindness’ power, [there] can [be] bringing [of] karmas [to be] reborn [there]. (Restricting [to those] in this realm, still yet [to] sever confusions [and evil] karmas, [this is] named [as] bringing [of] karmas. If born [in the] Western [Pure Land], then without karmas [that] can [be] attained, not with karmas brought to [the] Western [Pure Land].)
[Note 5: In contrast to all other Dharma Doors, being with Buddha’s immeasurable Other-power (他力), the Dharma Door Of Mindfulness Of Buddha (念佛法门) is the only Special Dharma Door (特别法门) with the above great advantages. Once reaching the Pure Land, as there are no supportive conditions (助缘) for the fruition of evil karmic causes (恶业因) there, while there are only supportive conditions for creating pure karmas (净业) (without attachment to them), past evil karmas is as good as gone.]
Regardless [of] skills [being] deep [or] shallow, if complete [with] true Faith [and] sincere Aspiration, [having] utmost sincere recitation, [this is] without one [of] those [not] reborn [there].
[Note 6: Faith, Aspiration and Practice (信愿行) of utmost sincere recitation (至诚称念) form the Three Provisions (三资粮) for reaching the Pure Land.]
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
Dharma Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings (Third Compilation): Reply Letter [To] Wú Sīqiān;
Record [Of] Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence (11th Short Section): 1st [Chapter]: Praise [Of The] Pure Land [Dharma Door Being] Transcendental [And] Supreme (11th Short Section)
[Ref: #11 / 1.11]
Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
Record Of Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence